Chair Shots: When is a Champion Not a Champion?
Mar 14, 2014 - 10:14:56 AM
Welcome back readers to the column that knows as much about where the missing Malaysian airliner is as the people in charge- Chair Shots! So you read my column title right? Hopefully it got you into the page here to read this thing, otherwise what the hell am I typing this for. Have you figured out the answer yet? I’m sure there are quite a few, but my answer to the question of when is a Champion NOT a Champion is when you’re Dean Ambrose and Big E. Langston. Let’s be real dear readers, neither man is lighting the world on fire with their title defenses, or in Ambrose’s case, the lack thereof. Let’s take a look at both of their title runs since winning the belts.
• Won the US Title on May 19, 2013
• Has defended the belt only 13 times
• Has wrestled only 3 opponents for the belt since September (Ziggler/Big E./Mark Henry)
• Has wrestled primarily in tag team matches outside of those defenses, except for the program with CM Punk
• Won the Intercontinental Title on November 18th
• Has defended the belt only 5 times
• Has had 18 other non-title matches in that time frame
• Is currently being used as a prop in the split of the Real Americans
That’s embarrassing. The Intercontinental and US Titles have storied histories that go back to some of the greatest wrestlers in history. Before the WWE purchased WCW, the US Title holder was routinely the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. In the WWE, the Intercontinental Title holder was barely one step below the WWE Champion. Now however, both belts are practically meaningless, and from the looks of things, neither may be defended at Wrestlemania XXX.
When Dean Ambrose won the US Title, a lot of people were hopeful that the belt would be given some legitimacy considering how hot of a group The Shield had become, and still are. It would also give Ambrose a chance to show the WWE Universe what he could do in the ring as a singles competitor. We all couldn’t have been further from the truth on this one. Ambrose has been almost non-existent as a defending champion, and in the few title defenses he’s had, he’s only managed to secure three pinfall victories. The WWE had the perfect opportunity to make Ambrose a beast in the ring, with Rollins and Reigns at his side to propel the US Championship to a new level of respectability. But we all know that hasn’t happened. In fact, the announcers this past Monday night on Raw were joking and commenting on how frequently Ambrose has defended the belt. It’s not just the US belt though, Big E.’s reign as IC Champion hasn’t gone much better.
The difference between Big E. and Ambrose though, is that Big E. has wrestled a lot of singles matches. However rarely has the belt been on the line in them. As the stats show, he’s actually only officially defended the belt 5 times. Granted he has looked pretty dominant in those defenses, but he really hasn’t been given the opportunity to shine as champion. Over the past month, Big E. has been used as nothing more than a prop to facilitate tension between Swagger and Cesaro, the Real Americans. In only one match against Swagger at the Elimination Chamber PPV was that belt on the line. Since that time, he’s been in the ring with them, but just to serve the purpose of having someone there for the Real Americans to argue over. The belt was irrelevant, and unfortunately at this time that’s where both midcard titles lie.
Wrestlemania has had its share of incredible bouts for midcard titles. It wasn’t until Wrestlemania XII that the Intercontinental Title wasn’t even featured on the card. On the flip side, the Wrestlemania card has NOT featured either the US or Intercontinental titles in almost half of the cards in the last ten years, and even last year at WM XXIX, the belt was only featured on the Pre-Show. It’s a damn shame considering what we as WWE fans and fans of great wrestling in general have been given in the past.
At Wrestlemania III, Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage battled for the IC title in what is considered one of the top matches in WM history, and it set the bar for how matches were worked going forward. At Wrestlemania VI, the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan wrestled to unify the WWE Championship and the Intercontinental Championship, showing how important the status of the IC belt was at that time. How can you forget the fantastic Ladder Match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X? These are matches that go down as some of the most important matches in WWE history, and now we’re at a point where both belts are meaningless.
Let’s flash back briefly to 1992. It was at Summer Slam that the British Bulldog wrestled Bret Hart in the Main Event at Wembley Stadium. No, that match wasn’t for the WWE Championship; it was for the Intercontinental title. They wrestled 25:40 in a match that received a standing ovation from those in attendance. Sure it had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time with the right competitor in the British Bulldog, but it goes to show that given the right amount of attention, that belt can MEAN SOMETHING. I still remember watching that match and thinking how important it was that a belt other the WWE Championship headlined a PPV. In fact, the WWE Championship match was several matches earlier in the evening. With the state of the belts today, could you even see that remotely happening? Would you want to?
With only one main World Title now in the WWE, the line at the top is much longer than it has ever been. This is the perfect time to elevate those two belts back to importance. There are a lot of WWE Superstars that used to be title contenders that no longer have anything major to do. I don’t see Alberto Del Rio or Sheamus or Christian back in the hunt for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Having one of them hold either the IC Title or US Title would bring some credibility back to the belt, as long as the WWE continue to be behind those wrestlers. And that’s the important piece of the puzzle right there. The WWE and their creative minds have to WANT to make the midcard titles mean something. You could give the US Title to John Cena, but if you’re not going to have him defend it, the belt remains meaningless. The WWE can give the IC title to Cesaro, who appears to be on the verge of a monster push, but if he doesn’t get some high profile title defenses under his belt, that belt remains meaningless too. So the onus goes back to the WWE to look at its own history.
Right now, with the advent of the WWE Network, the histories of the WWE, WCW/NWA, and ECW are more available to the Universe than they’ve ever been before. Fans WANT to watch the classic PPV’s, many of which included spectacular mid-card title defenses. Along with that, the landscape of the WWE is changing before our eyes, with the fans more than ever having their voices heard. So let me ask you dear readers, would you like the IC and US titles to be more important again. If so, let your voice be heard. If you go to a live show, take a “Make the IC Title Important” again sign with you. If the current title holder is wrestling a non-title match or a tag match, chant “Defend Your Belt”. I’m not one to support hijacking a program by any means, but we DO have the power to let the WWE know how we feel. And if they ask where they got such crazy ideas, tell them it came from TripleR. I’m not afraid to tell them how I feel.
So what do you think folks? Hit me up with your thoughts, comments, death threats, match.com profiles, and comic book suggestions at all of the available means of communications. And as usual, thanks for checking out Chair Shots!
Until next time,
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